By Ada Li
Imagine never finding love and remaining single for the rest of your life. For many, this is a scary thought, especially for younger women. As a 22-year-old, I’ve come to terms with being the forever single friend in my friend group. 22 relationship-less years of my life, including dating, has prepared me for the title. Unlike many, I embrace the single life and find it a blessing rather than a curse.
But wait, did I really say 22? Yes I did, you didn’t read it wrong! 22 seems like such a young age and I know I still have plenty of time to find “the one,” so I shouldn’t be this pessimistic, right? All my friends keep telling me that one day he’ll appear out of nowhere and sweep me off my feet, while my mom shakes her head with disappointment and tells me I’m too picky. I honestly hated them for having the audacity to say those words to me, especially my friends who are currently dating or have been in a relationship in the past. They don’t understand that I don’t need words of comfort but instead words that celebrate my singleness.
I blame the media for representing a limited view on love. Growing up, I was surrounded by Disney princesses finding their princes. The media engraves into our young minds that a girl must patiently wait for her prince to come sweep her off her feet and ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. I used to believe in that kind of love, a love that isn’t realistic at all. Somewhere down the line, little me grew up to become the opposite of a Disney princess, as well as the traditional values of romance. Being the eldest child of an immigrant family, I’ve learned to be independent at a young age. My sixth grade teacher taught me the importance of questioning authority and voicing my opinion even if it’s against the majority.
All of my experiences have shaped me into the strong, independent woman I am today. That means I place romance pretty low on my list and prioritize family, friends, school, work and my future career. But the lack of a man in my life has people, even some of my friends, questioning my sexuality. “It’s fine if you’re a lesbian,” he says jokingly after pointing out how dry my love life is for the millionth time. It’s sad that people often stereotype people based on certain traits. That being said, there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian but I am not. I struggle to be both docile and flirty to attract guys at the bar, something most of my girlfriends have no trouble doing. Not to mention that I am super awkward and a terrible flirt, so I usually morph into a wallflower and just listen in on the conversation, hating every minute of it and wanting to leave.
Then I remember how great it is to be single. There is no one to eat up more of my time from my already busy schedule. I can flirt with any cutie without feeling guilty despite the fact that I’m terrible at flirting. And most importantly, I can do my own thing.
Even if being single is great, sometimes I do wish that I had a significant other. I am human, after all. Seeing my friends in relationships does make me envious of having someone there to tell me he loves me and to randomly give me surprise reminders of how much he appreciates me. But at the end of the day, I just don’t see myself sacrificing my single lifestyle any time soon.
I remember giving advice to my friend about relationships (why do people like asking single people for advice?) and he asked me, “If you’ve never been in a romantic relationship, how will you ever grow as a person?” My response? I simply told him that being single for my entire life really gives me the time to learn about and reflect on my flaws. It also gives me time to pursue my dreams without worrying about my other half. It doesn’t make me a selfish person, because I’ve learned to care and share from my relationships with family and friends.
At the beginning of this year, I recall reading “I May Never Find Love- & That Has to Be Okay” on Refinery29 by Maria Del Russo, and that article was the inspiration for this piece. One part that stuck out to me is the research on how the happiness of single women is around the same as that of married women. That gave me comfort. As Russo says, I can always be the cool aunt that travels and experiences the world on my own terms. I may still be young and I might find someone later in life, but the idea of being single forever doesn’t scare me at all knowing that I will still be able to find love outside of a romantic relationship.